Sarah's Brother

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The white plastered walls glared against the cheaply artificial fluorescent lighting. Standing out among the amorphous bright glow of the room were two dark lines. One stood still, stuck bent outwards, and hung. The other ticked slowly until it stood vertically and a loud alarm went off. Outside the walls there was a peculiar sound: first a low tremor and then a harsh and clunking amalgamation of footsteps. The stampede roared on for another five or so minutes, steadily dying down until the final set of feet vanished and the slam of a door for the last time. After a long year, the students were out and summer had finally begun.

Not for Brandon. His delinquent eyes continued to dart around the bright room picking up flashes of images: the glare of a teacher, various cheesy educational posters, and most frequently the all too slow movement of the clock. Another two hours and he too would be free to his own whims, but the school had only hoped that keeping him would start his summer with a reminder to behave. Finally coming to a halt fixated on the two arms, Brandon’s eyes began to dim and finally shut.

He was awakened by a loud bang and jolted up in his chair. Slowly coming to, he looked up to see an equally unenthusiastic teacher holding a ruler. It was clear she was no more excited in being kept after school than he was.

“Get up” she commanded.

Brandon’s eyes once again moved to the clock, which had finally signaled his summer pardon. Sluggishly he rose from his chair and faced the teacher. His matted hair, rebelliously sticking every which way, fell in front of his dark piercing eyes. He stared her down. Finally on his feet, she shrunk in his presence. She was a dwarf in comparison to his intimidating stature: large broad shoulders and the strength to match. Becoming more uncomfortable she stepped backwards and preoccupied herself with straightening the already perfectly aligned posters on the wall.

Having asserted his authority over the frail teacher, there was nothing left for Brandon to do. He grabbed his backpack and swung it over his shoulders, heading towards the exit.

“Brandon,” the teacher meekly called.

He slowly turned, visibly irked.

“What?”

“Have a good summer, and just please remember to behave.”

Her voiced was audibly strained, but it was obvious she cared for him. It was a voice that had grown weary of constant pleading and pointless reminders. Still it was sincere.

“We’re not your enemies here, Brandon. The entire faculty thinks that there’s hope for you. You don’t need to cause trouble—there’s so much more for you in this world. We just don’t think you’re using it responsibly.”

Brandon had frozen mid-stride and was staring at her with his same dark gaze. As she continued to plead, his anger began to brew. He bit his lip to restrain himself, and began to walk out the door.

“Please,” the teacher called out after him.

“Just… take care Brandon.”

He continued out the door without breaking or turning back. Once just far enough away, but still within earshot he finally couldn’t restrain himself.

“Up yours.”

Brandon broke through the large doors and meandered into the empty parking lot. His black mustang was the only car still there and it roared to life as he sped out of the school. The light was beginning to fade, but the day was just beginning for Brandon. There were so many possibilities when roaming the streets at night. Clubs, crashing at friends, looking for trouble all were possible candidates for Brandon’s unruly nightlife. But there was one thing he had to do first.

The black mustang pulled up into the driveway of a small home. There was something looking out from inside the darkness of the house. The blinds rustled and seconds later the front door flung open.

“Big brother!”

“Hey Sarah”

“Where’ve you been?”

Brandon averted his eyes. It had been several months since he had last been home. His parents, always gone at work, had long since given up on him. Their only request was from him to look after Sarah.

“I’ve been here and there” Brandon improvised.

“School’s been terribly busy.”

“Well I’m so glad you’re here now.”

Brandon ambled into the house cautiously. He opened the door to his room—the hinge creaked from disuse as he turned it . Sarah pushed past him in excitement; she never went into his room while he was gone. She rocketed into the bed. Brandon collapsed into his torn up chair and surveyed his room; it had been long since he had stared at the unorganized mess. He appeared visibly distraught now, but shrugged it aside.

Sarah had begun to doze off, entangled in the mess of sheets, and Brandon took the opportunity to catch up on things. It had been months since he had checked his email and his inbox was flooded with letters of concern. “Where are you?” stared him in the face, but had long since given up hope on receiving an answer. Brandon then withdrew a good sum of money from his parent’s safe and departed, leaving Sarah silently resting in his neglected room.

Brandon was free. He had already shrugged off any thought of caring for his little sister. She had seemed fine and doing well on her own. Besides, there were teachers who looked after her at school only blocks away, and she had a home to herself. She had all the freedom in the world—without having to lie to anyone. Brandon almost envied it. Still, something just felt odd to him. Brandon knew a perfect solution, and he sped off down the road, not turning back once to look at the quiet home he used to love.

The night began as any other of his devious encounters: meeting up at any equally delinquent locations. A bar, nightclub, gang hideouts, or anything served as the perfect catalyst to his nightlife. It was done almost in a formulaic manner: a line or two, severe intoxication, and a setting ripe for violence. Let the night begin, because Brandon was certainly ready for it. However, those circumstances were all quite normal for him. It was a run in with a particularly intolerant gang member that threw Brandon’s evening into a complete spiral.

Drunken haze had managed to nullify a staggering amount of pain in Brandon’s head, but it hadn’t managed to render him immune to the bottle that had shattered on his forehead. Retiring his hand from its futile attempt to stop the flow of blood, Brandon glared through his now crimson and soaked hair. He spat a foul mixture of alcohol and blood onto the ground and his gesture was trumped with a swift blow to the stomach. Everything went black.

The rest of the evening were only short flashes of consciousness that Brandon had managed to recall: him being dragged away, an acquaintance driving him, being yelled at for directions to his house. He woke up in an unfamiliar location, wrapped in a disarray of sheets. His eye caught a small note beside him. Brandon yelled out in agony reaching for it; his body felt as if it had been crushed. His eyes finally could make out the characters on the note:

Brandon,

First, you’re lucky just to be alive, which you may not appreciate yet because of your injuries. After you blacked out (the first time) we rushed back to my car and I tried to get you up, but you were in pretty bad shape. I managed to get your address out of you, but that was it. I slept right on the floor ‘cause I wasn’t feeling up to leave that night. That’s all I remember, but when I woke up I took off. I don’t know about this stuff any more dude.

Your friend,

Steven

Brandon looked around the room—his eyes had adjusted by now. Despite the clutter, Brandon felt comfortable here. He looked down at his aching body—he was covered in what appeared to be multitudes of “Hello Kitty” bandages. Just then, he heard a loud creak and he saw his door opening in the corner of his eye. It was Sarah—she looked concerned.

“Sarah,” Brandon said weakly. Sarah slowly inched forward and sat down on the bed. Getting closer, her look shifted more into a mixture of sadness and fear.

“I haven’t been completely honest with you… in fact, hardly anything I’ve told you has been true…”

His voice rose, but Sarah still remained silent, staring at him through compassionate eyes.

“It’s hard for me to tell you this because you’re so young now. I just…don’t want you to make the mistake of following my example.”

Brandon sighed and, in the first time in a long while, felt regretful.

“I’ve completely lost faith in all the people who’ve cared for me and I’ve left you alone. It’s not fair to you, or to the people who’ve wasted their life trying to sway me,” he continued. His eyes had begun to tear up and Sara embraced him; her eyes continued as unwavering as before: taking in all these new emotions that were springing up from her previously vacant older brother.

Sarah woke up to go to school the next day. As she opened the door to leave the house, a figure appeared behind her. She turned around and stared into a dark pair of eyes. Hand in hand, they left together in silent contentment.





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